Geotechnical Engineering 101 and more…

Building firm foundations

Landslides – Prevention

Posted by Kshitija Nadgouda on June 8, 2006

In my earlier post, we discussed the causes of landslides. So logically the preventive measures can be deduced directly from the causes.

(Courtsey University of Kwazulu-Natal)

The first cause listed is gravity. Since we cannot alter gravity, what we can do, is alter geometry of the man-made slope so that the gravity effects are not detrimental. If the landslide is surficial (not too deep), the easiest way to prevent the fall of rocks and soil over the slope – is to vegetate it! However, vegetation can help only if the movement hasn’t already begun or if the landslide is deep!

Groundwater table changes are the most common cause of landslides. Heavy rains, leaking pipes, melting of snow in warm weather, floods, etc can cause changes in the groundwater table, thus inducing a landslide. Although natural phenomena such as heavy rains, melting snow, etc cannot be modified, its effect on the groundwater table can be controlled by applying the principles of hydrology and geotechnical engineering. Rain water or snow melt can be directed far away from the slopes by building drainage channels or swales that convey the water where it shall not be detrimental to the stability of the slope. Leaking pipes or leaking swimming pools can be easily fixed, once the location of the leak is determined.

Construction on top of slope
(Courtsey BBC News)

Earthquakes cause ground shaking which may directly lead to a landslide. Or, the ground shaking may cause the soil to loosen and become weak, leading to a landslide. To prevent earthquake induced landslides, the ideal solution is to design the geometry of the slope such that it has an adequate factor of safety even for seismic cases.

House on cliff
(Courtsey Emergency Management Australia)

To prevent landslides triggered due to construction on top of the slope, a setback distance should be maintained between the top of slope and construction. The distance will depend on the type of construction and geology and geometry of the slope.

Landslide on road
(Courtsey US Geological Survey)

Another cause of landslides (that I did not mention in my previous artice), is undercutting of the toe of slope. The toe of the slope plays a major role in keeping the upper portion in a stable condition. In fact, if a slope seems unstable, soil berms (counterweight fills) are placed at the toe of the slope to provide additional resistance to the potential movement of the upper part of the slope. Another aspect with similar principles would involve removing soil from the top of the slope, thus reducing the forces driving the movement.

Benching, constructing retaining walls, shotcreting, putting up steel nets, etc are some other methods of preventing or controlling landslides.

Some good information on landslides is available at:

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Copyright Kshitija Nadgouda.


27 Responses to “Landslides – Prevention”

  1. […] Landslides – Prevention […]

  2. nizam said

    landslides occurs due toimperfection in soil bearing capacity

  3. Anonymous said

    i don’t like it cause it does not show you nothing at all so if you are gonna show some pictures show facts at the end

  4. Anonymous said

    just alittle bit to confussing i do not get it at all !!! like what the heck

  5. nishit purswani said


  6. nishit purswani said


  7. anonymous said

    thanks for d info!!!

  8. Anonymous said

    thank you man!!

  9. eunice said

    ok. I’m contented. tnx a lot

  10. v said


  11. Anonymous said

    better info is needed………….

  12. Anonymous said

    pictures are good and very useful

  13. Anonymous said

    better info not really needed gives a basic understanding behind some very basic mechanics of some soil andhard rock stability,
    if you want some well detailed easy to understand info of slope stability look up rock slope engineering by Hoek & Bray

  14. said

    You actually make it appear so easy with your presentation but I find this matter to be really one thing that I think I might never understand. It sort of feels too complex and very extensive for me. I am taking a look ahead on your next publish, I will attempt to get the hang of it!

  15. Anonymous said

    thanks for it man

  16. Anonymous said

    more info should be provided about prevention of landslides

  17. Anonymous said

    prevention of landslide: passive measure or active preventive measure?
    hard stabilization methods of shoreline protection?

  18. […] discussed all these points in the previous post (Landslides-Prevention), but let us discuss them in detail […]

  19. xz said

    by preventing deforestation ,agriculture and stopping quarrying and taking limestone

  20. abhilash telgote said

    thanx a lot!!!

  21. Anonymous said

    It’s a fabulous article:). I have been searching prevention of landslides for my project, but I didn’t found any one article like this one, it’s really beneficial for me, I got all the information I required. Thanks to the writer…..:)

  22. Princy said

    Thanks a lot…..:)

  23. unknown said

    This is very interesting but it didn’t help me well. It is just like a passing cloud.

  24. Anonymous said

    This is awsome, I’ve really understood the concept well. Also in your next post that’s about “Landslide- Mitigation” also helped me with my project. Thanks !!!!!!

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